Outlook: Provincially Yours

Performance view at Sadler’s Wells. “Un Peu De Tendresse Bordel De Merde!” (2010) Photo by Alastair Muir

Not so long ago, Montreal-based dance company Dave St-Pierre performed at Sadler’s Wells in London. Their much-hyped piece Un Peu De Tendresse Bordel De Merde! divided the audience’s opinion into camps at opposite ends of the appreciative spectrum: loving or hating it. Critics in the latter group were utterly appalled by St-Pierre’s visceral choreography, giving it a zero star and snippy comment such as “lazy, derivative and very, very provincial!” (one critic in particular allegedly had his specs taken off and spat on by one of the dancer, all a part of the performance, of course). The intended shock and awe of bullock-naked dancers running through the audience didn’t quite hit the mark of a memorable work, in a city forged by traditions of dissent and punk ethics.

Crossing over the channel, we find a new exhibition opening at La Maison Rouge in Paris, to once again put Canadian culture in the spotlight, this time looking at Winnipeg. Their press release states:

“My Winnipeg is a new series of exhibitions which focuses on the arts scenes of major provincial cities. […] la maison rouge is taking a close look at centres of creativity with little-known yet thriving arts scene, whose artists’ work is infused with the city and its territory, history and myth. Winnipeg is a prime example of how geographical location can shape artistic production…”
 

Guy Maddin “My Winnipeg (still)” (2007) © Guy Maddin

‘My Winnipeg’, a title taken from Guy Maddin’s 2007 film, showcases over 70 artists, including: KC Adams, Daniel Barrow, Shary Boyle, Paul Butler, Marcel Dzama, Karel Funk, Tim Gardner, General Idea, Indian Group of seven, Wanda Koop, Guy Maddin, Kent Monkman, Jon Pylypchuk, Royal Art Lodge and many more. Not all exhibited artists currently live and work in Winnipeg, many participating in a cultural diaspora, in moving to bigger and more business savvy cities like New York, Toronto, LA and so on. These artists have nonetheless closely knitted their working process and reflection on their native city, helping to define the region’s identity.

Marcel Dzama “We Shall Be Given Back to the Old Disharmony, (2009) Oil on board. Courtesy of the artist and David Zwirner, NY

La Maison Rouge has not yet announced other cities to follow-up Winnipeg in their regionally-themed series, but this project is already shedding a light of interest towards supposedly marginalized area, which pleasantly offsets our obsession for art and globalization. We all dream the utopic dreams of heterogeneous ways of working, multi-culturism and such, which should come with globalization. However reality often checks in with a different scenario, still ostensibly centralized, determined by geo-political and socio-economical hierarchies, to shape our cultural map and human psyche into rude awakenings on more than one level.

My Winnipeg presents a good case study to highlight alternatives to the homogenizing forces driven by the current trends of globalization.
 
 

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